CAIRO: The Endowment Ministry has warned against any Shiite rituals on the Day of Ashura, coinciding with Friday, especially in Cairo’s famous Hussein Mosque, Youm7 reported Wednesday.
“We warned workers of the mosque to be vigilant and observe visitors of the mosque who do any strange rituals or acts, and security has been intensified in the vicinity of the mosque in anticipation of any Shiite gathering. We will not empower them to achieve what they seek,” undersecretary of the ministry Mohamed Abdel Razzaq told Youm7.
Last year, the ministry closed the mosque immediately after each of the five daily prayers on the Day of Ashura to avoid potential clashes between Shiites and Sunni Salafis.
“Our visits to the Hussein Mosque are continuous all year, but visits in those days are of a special nature because they coincide with the memory of the great loss and the martyrdom of Imam Hussein,” Egyptian Shiite leader al-Taher al-Hashemy told Youm7.
Sunnis commemorate the Day of Ashura as the day the Israelites are believed to have been saved from Egypt. Shiites commemorate the day as the mourning for the killing of Al-Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohamed. Shiite rituals on Hussein’s memory include self-flagellation, a tradition that has been condemned by Sunni scholars and some Shiite leaders.
Egyptians at large do not have a history of Shiite-persecution, but after the emergence of Salafi ideology in recent decades, some Egyptians have started to have anti-Shiite feelings.
In June, 23 people were sentenced to 14 years in prison over the mob torture and murder of four Shiites in June 2013. A mob attacked a house in a Giza town after it was known that a group of people practice Shiite rituals inside it.
Under the premise that Shiites try to spread their sect in Egypt, the mob killed four Shiites, including their leader, Hassan Shehata.
It is uncertain how many Egyptians embrace the Shiite sect, as Egypt does not take the census according to sects, but only the three Abrahamic religions.
Additional reporting by Loai Ali